Why the Future of the CFR Depends On You
Why support journalism about arts and politics through a service called Patreon?
This is a difficult time for all news media, especially outlets that cover the arts. Not only do we have a president who insists that any coverage he doesn’t like is “fake news,” but funding for arts and culture, for public broadcasting and for public education is under threat — and so is freedom of the press itself. This administration wants to sow fear about immigrants and minorities, to deny the opinions of experts on issues from science to healthcare to education to foreign policy, and to spurn the most fundamental protocols of transparency and communication with the American people. At no time in our history have journalists had to work so hard simply to learn what is true and to interpret the news of the day.
And so it can seem frivolous to want to talk about the arts — to investigate a new exhibit, to review a TV show, to interview a playwright. Yet we know the core American and human values that we foster with the arts — an openness to dialogue and understanding, a celebration of diversity, a commitment to justice — is precisely what we need during such a divided and unpredictable time for our country and our world. Arts, culture and entertainment are, more than often than not, powerful change agents. Arts, culture and entertainment shape our society and its values. Think about it: when was the last time you went a day without experiencing any art? We at the CFR believe that this encompassing presence in our lives deserves critical, dedicated journalism all of its own — not simply to tell you what’s new, but what it means, and why it matters, and how its trends, discoveries and controversies make us more informed citizens and wiser humans. We at the CFR see the intersection of arts and politics around us every day. We at the CFR have long dedicated our journalism to this “nexus” because seeing it, reporting on it, interpreting it, celebrating it, simply makes our society better.
That’s the intersection of arts and politics. And the CFR is the only publication specifically committed to that kind of coverage.
Unfortunately, that coverage does not come free. And that is where we need your help. While the CFR is growing, we cannot meet all of our needs, let alone all of our goals, without your support. So we ask all of our readers to please participate in a campaign to save and support the CFR through a service that is called Patreon.
Patreon is used by literally thousands of artists. It allows patrons to donate small amounts of money in exchange for monthly rewards — and the satisfaction of supporting the kind of work they do care about. Since you may be unfamiliar with Patreon, and likely have many questions about the CFR’s campaign, we’ll break down a few questions here:
How does Patreon work?
Patreon allows people to support the artists they love with a monthly payment in exchange for their work. It’s like Kickstarter — with a small recurring payment instead of one big one.
What do I get out of it?
Readers of the CFR can support us on four levels; the full list of rewards are explained on our Patreon page. The basic level is $6 — essentially the same as treating a writer to coffee once a month. It’s a small gesture, but it will make a big impact. Each reward level includes a package of previews, insider access and special promotions for your own causes as our way of saying thank you. But the best reward we can offer our readers is a wealth of content and functionality — the kind of bigger and better CFR that your contribution will make possible.
What does CFR get out of it?
The CFR has a lot of costs that we, frankly, haven’t talked about very much. The look and feel of our site (our “theme”) is very old and no longer supported by the developer who created it. We are thus in immediate and crucial need a whole new design; our best and fastest option is to contract a professional developer to create a reliable, usable, mobile-friendly, 100% functional platform, one that is conducive to our articles, yes, but also better suited to podcasts, videos and our growing custom-content service — all nascent and promising revenue streams. This all costs money. In addition, we guarantee a stipend to all our writers and editors; without your support, we cannot go on paying them, even at a modest scale. For marketing and distributing our articles, we face four different, ongoing costs tied with our mailing lists, e-blasts and social media, and then we have four additional, ongoing costs associated with servers, hosts, and the maintenance of the site itself. Too little revenue to keep us up and running and functional — that’s it, we’re done. So much for arts and politics. Buh-bye. $6 a month keeps us up and running. All levels and all rewards invite you to exercise direct access to us — to our editorial process, to our stories, to our structure, to our strategies.
Well, sorry, but I can get my news for free. Why should I pay for this?
It’s true: most online news these days is free. We also know that most people pay for, or subscribe to, at least a few publications of special value to them. If you’re reading this, we ask you to consider CFR to be such a valuable outlet. CFR brings you truly unique stories, op-eds and interviews — no other outlet covers arts and politics like we do. We’ve brought our readers thousands of stories, interviews, podcasts (and now videos) through the years that you won’t find anywhere else. You can still have all our content for free, but we hope you find our work valuable enough to qualify as one of those publications you’re willing to support. Our existence frankly depends on it.
The work of your writers and editors is important to me, and I’m willing make a small monthly contribution to help sustain the CFR. What do I do next?
That’s wonderful! To get started, just click on our Patreon page and click the big orange “Become a Patron” button.
Also, to give you the full rundown of what our goals are and why we’re doing this, here’s a short video from our founder and executive editor, Leonard Jacobs:
Thank you for being loyal readers. We hope we can count on your support.